Employee Q&A: Jill Toennis

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Q: A little background: How long have you been with the Red Cross; what is your job now and what other jobs have you had over the years?
A: I started to work for Red Cross as a volunteer helping with aquatic classes in the 1990s. I worked for the YMCA at the time. I came to work full time as an employee in July 2001 to the Health and Safety Department as the Northern Kentucky, Clermont and Brown County School Safety Partners Rep. In 2004, I moved over to the Water Safety/Aquatic Rep for Greater Cincinnati and then in 2011 transitioned into the new national structure as Aquatic Specialist for Central and Southern Ohio. Over the last five years, my job has changed several times, but always working with aquatic customers in an every growing territory.

Q: What drew you to want to work for the Red Cross in the first place?
A: I loved working with people and helping them keep up with their training. Water safety is my passion, and I  like to get the word out on the importance of teaching your kids to swim.

Q: What’s your swimming background? Did you swim competitively? Were you a lifeguard? Do you still swim? Can you beat Michael Phelps in a 100-yard freestyle sprint?
A: My background for swimming began as child when I took Red Cross swim lessons at my local YMCA. I swam on a swim team until high school. At age 15, I took my first Red Cross lifeguarding class, and that was the start of my aquatics career. I still teach swim lessons today, and I swim laps, but I definitely cannot beat Michael Phelps.

Q: Did you know the word “swims” looks the same upside down?
A: I had no idea!

Q: Did you know the Titanic was the first ocean liner with a swimming pool? If not, do you feel more enlightened?
A: I did not know that he Titanic was the first ocean liner to have a pool, but I do feel like I now have a great trivia question.

Q: A little about you personally: What was your New Year’s resolution. Have you broken it yet?
A: I do not make New Year’s resolutions any more because I am terrible at keeping them.

Q: Are you a dog person or cat person?
A: Dog all the way! I have rescue yellow lab named Izzie

Q: Do you know any good lifeguard jokes?
A: No jokes. Sorry!

Q: Do you watch Baywatch? Do you critique their resuscitation skills? Are they good?
A: I have watched Baywatch, a long time ago, and their technique is not as up to date as what we teach now.

Q: Where was your last vacation?
A: I went to Ft. Meyers Beach in October. I love to sit on the beach!

Q: What do you do for fun?
A: Going to the beach, shopping and hanging out with friends are my relaxing fun things I like to do.

Q: What’s the most exhilarating thing you’ve ever done?
A: Many years ago I went whitewater rafting on a family vacation.

Q: What’s your most memorable Red Cross moment?
A: There have been to many moments and memories but I am thankful for all the opportunities and friends that have come into my life through my Red Cross career.


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